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You’re coming to nursing school at Bellin College, now what?

Community outreach is one of the many opportunities available to students at Bellin College.

Congratulations! If you are reading this, then there’s a good chance you have chosen nursing as your intended profession. I am here to tell you that you are in store for a whole lot of smiles, sweat, tears, unforgettable moments and a profession that will continuously keep you on your toes. You will be there for people during their best and worst moments in life (I’ve only been in healthcare for a few years so that is saying a lot!). I am sure that you are feeling a bit nervous as you start on this new journey, but I want you to know that WE ALL HAVE BEEN THERE! Every single nurse, CNA, doctor, or anyone else who you may encounter in healthcare has started at the beginning — just like you. So whether you have years of previous medical experience under your belt or area a complete newbie, we all continue to learn new things every day. When I started nursing school, I remember having absolutely no clue about what to expect. My hope is these tips relieve some of those beginning jitters and help you feel a little less alone in this new world of nursing school.

Tip #1: Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize

Nursing school is about to take up so much of your time it isn’t even funny. It can be tough at first to establish a routine, but if there is one thing I can say to help you juggle all the madness it would be to map out every … little … thing. Your schedule will soon become your new bible and you must quickly learn how to keep track of exams, papers, clinical preparation worksheets and your sacred study time.  At the beginning of each semester, sit down and record every lecture, exam, assignment, clinical, and whatever else may be on your schedule or planner. It’s important also to plan your study time. Other students and myself have found that giving yourself small, frequent, two-to-three hour study sessions rather than using a whole day attempting to cram everything you learned in, is much more helpful when preparing for exams. I’d recommend using a bit of time after each lecture to go through your notes, even if you are just rereading what you’ve just written. Find those study habits that work best for you and stick to them. Give yourself breaks when you’ve deserved them and try your best not to completely deprive yourself of sleep (If you didn’t like coffee before — trust me — you will.)  As I know you’ve heard over and over again, nursing school takes up A LOT of one’s time. Although it can be tough to balance all that is required of you, keeping a detailed schedule helps you to stay on top of everything.

Tip #2: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Nursing school is your opportunity to soak in every ounce of learning that you can receive. When given the choice on a clinical site, try choosing somewhere you wouldn’t have expected yourself to be. Surprisingly enough, most nurses end up nowhere near the specialty they had originally planned on working. 

Once in your clinical setting, take every opportunity available to you. Ask questions, offer assistance, and become someone the staff looks to first for additional help when needed. There is always something to learn, do, or see as a student and now is your time to take advantage of these experiences.  With that being said, get out of your social comfort zone as well! Bellin College has student organizations such as Ambassador’s Club, Student Senate, Bellin Student Nurses Association (BSNA) and numerous others, all of which are extremely welcoming and are a great way to meet other students outside of class.

Tip #3: Take Advantage of Help

Accepting help from others is something I know everyone struggles with. Bellin College offers a huge array of helpful services and I 100% recommend that you take advantage of them! The Student Success Center offers tutoring sessions taught by students who have previously passed the course. In addition, Bellin College faculty are always more than willing to sit down with students to discuss content and exams or practice skills. Please, please, please take advantage of these resources as they will only strengthen your abilities as a nurse! The faculty especially likes to help in any way they can and creating professional relationships with them is always a benefit for your future. (I promise you, they are WAY less intimidating to talk to than you think!)

Additional Recommendations:

Corrina Dart

» Purchase a set of shoes that you will use for clinical and clinical alone. Currently, you are required to wear all white shoes. Most students wear typical Nike tennis shoes or something of the sort. Unless you plan to wear them for years, please do not spend a fortune on these. They will very quickly become dirty and you will be walking miles (yes I said miles) each day in them. If you are looking more long term, I do highly recommend Danskos. These shoes are a bit pricy but hold up very well. Each person has their own opinion on them though, so I would definitely try them out before buying.

» Get yourself a reliable stethoscope. I personally use the Littmann Classic III stethoscope and it works great. Any Littmann or MDF is typically reliable. This will be something you will use throughout your entire time in nursing school as well as after you graduate. A good stethoscope makes a huge difference.

» Your clipboard will become an essential part of your clinical rotations. Amazon has a huge variety of these. Type in “nursing clipboard” and you’ll know exactly what I mean. I recommend the Tribe RN Nursing Clipboard. It has normal vitals, lab values, ABGs, and medication calculations printed on the back; all of which are super helpful while you’re still beginning to learn these during busy clinical days.

» If your clinical instructor, professor, or classmates offers a daily report worksheet to you, TAKE IT. Accumulate and save as many of these spreadsheets as possible. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, these are printable sheets that are used every day as a nurse. It helps immensely when keeping track of vitals, assessment, meds, tests, therapies, or really anything else that may involve your patient throughout the shift. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to these, and you will quickly learn which layout works best for you. Having worksheets given to you from others who have been there before makes narrowing it down much easier.

» Lastly, the best thing I can tell you is to take care of yourself. Set aside time to do things that you enjoy and don’t let the stress of school take over your life. Make an effort to create friends in nursing school; they will be the people you can relate to most during your college experience. Keep up the motivation; I promise you there IS light at the end of the tunnel! You are headed into a respectful and rewarding career. Know that even on the hardest of days, you are your patient’s biggest advocate, supporter, and their last line of defense. You save lives. You comfort the sick. You cannot expect that to be easy.

Congratulations on picking the GREATEST profession and I wish you the best of luck in your career! 

Corrina Dart
BSN Traditional 2020

The views expressed in this blog entry are her own and are not an endorsement by Bellin College.

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Student uses sonography equipment.

Language barrier didn’t keep student from her dreams

Student uses sonography equipment.

Jennie Fonseca practices sonography in the lab on campus.

My name is Jennie and I am a junior in the sonography program at Bellin College. I was born in Honduras and I came to the United States when I was 10 years old. I did not know any English when I came to this country and I learned it as I went to school.  It took me around two years to fully understand English, but to this day I am still learning new words. 

Coming to this country gave me the opportunity to learn a new culture and being able to study whatever I wanted. Growing up, no one in my family was in the medical field and I thought to myself what I great way to be able to help people on a daily basis.

Student in costume in Honduras.

Jennie Fonseca dressed up in costume in Honduras.

I knew I wanted to go to school for something that would help people because when I came to this country we had a lot of people who helped our family out, so I wanted to the same. I got an interest in sonography after high school, but the college that was offering the program at the time had a long waiting period. During that time I took all my general classes and received an associate degree in health care business.

Then I found out that  Bellin College was offering the sonography program and applied right away.  I took a tour after I applied and I loved it even more because of everything the school has to offer. I was so excited when I got accepted in the second class ever in the sonography program at Bellin College.

Jennie Fonseca

Jennie Fonseca, originally from Honduras, is a part of the second class to graduate from Bellin College’s sonography program.

To have English as my second language in my background has not stopped me from achieving my goals. For one day to become a sonographer and be able to give back to the community and for some day to be able to do ultrasounds in Honduras for the less fortunate people who cannot afford them.   Bellin college has given me all the opportunities and help I need to succeed in my program. I am forever grateful with my professors and classmates for everything that I have learned and continue learning as I get further into my program.

— Jennie Fonseca is a junior in the sonography program at Bellin College, graduating in 2020.

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Brother helps spark interest in medical field

Photo of Rebekah Hammond, class of 2020.

Rebekah Hammond, class of 2020.

My name is Rebekah Hammond, I am currently a sophomore in the class of BSDMS 2020. I have a large family and was home-schooled through high school. I figured out what I wanted to be a part of the medical field in some way when I was a teenager. I had a brother that was an X-ray tech and he told me all about how rewarding it was to be in the medical field, so I knew right away it was something I would be passionate about.

I shadowed him in high school and decided to check out the ultrasound unit there. I was so intrigued I decided to pursue sonography as soon as I graduated high school. I took some general education courses while working for a few years and saw that Bellin College had a new diagnostic sonography program. I toured the college and found out more about the program. I thought that it was the perfect fit because of all the unique aspects it had to offer.

Rebekah Hammond, class of 2020, with her husband, Tyler Hammond.

Rebekah Hammond, class of 2020, with her husband, Tyler Hammond.

Since I started this program I have not stopped learning from my instructors and peers. I love the fact it is a smaller College, that I will have a bachelor’s degree and be board certified when I graduate. Being the second class ever in the ultrasound program here and experiencing the quality and time that is put into it, it is very exciting to know that more people will have the opportunity to be a part of such a great program.

Rebekah Hammond

BSDMS 2020

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Donor scholarships made education possible for alumna Megan Falk

While she was a Bellin College student, Falk encountered some heartbreaking challenges. Her brother was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, which devastated her and her family. She was learning how to be a nurse during the day and all of her free time after class and on the weekends was spent at his bedside in the hospital or working. She saw care up close and personal, via the nurses who cared for her brother. At the same time, she was gaining empathy and understanding for how difficult these situations can be—something that would help her care for her future patients
and their families.

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Ultrasound: Much more than looking at babies

Ultrasound: The medical imaging modality that looks at babies all day. Right? Most people think of ultrasound and they think of babies. This is far from the truth. Sonographers look at every organ from your head to your toe, blood vessels, and even muscles. Graduates from Bellin College learn abdominal, vascular, and obstetric/gynecological techniques and can take their registry boards in each specialty. Regardless of the types of ultrasounds done, sonographers around the world are facing the same issues: work-related injuries.

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Q&A with an RN to BSN Grad

Q&A with Mary Basten, HSRC Simulation Coordinator at Bellin College
RN to BSN graduate, class of December 2017

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

I had initially wanted to be a high school Spanish teacher. I was really good at learning the Spanish language, and my father was a teacher so I thought it would be a really good fit. I went to UWGB for a year before changing majors. I felt I would have more opportunity to touch more lives as a nurse than I would as a teacher, so I made the switch! I had no idea what a nurse actually did, I had never been sick as a child and had only seen nurses in the clinic setting. I thought it would be easy, and I was proved wrong!

Where did you receive your ADN?

I received my associate’s degree at NWTC in Green Bay.

Where have you worked, and what experiences did you have when you started out in your career?

As a CNA I worked at The Recovery Inn which is a part of Orthopedic and Sports Institute of the Fox Valley. During school, I worked as a Nurse Tech at a nursing home in Kaukauna for a short while. I decided the drive was not for me anymore, so I applied to Bellin Health and was offered the opportunity to work for on the 4th floor of Bellin Hospital. The medical unit was my home during my transition from CNA to RN. I worked on medical for a few years and decided I wanted to try critical care, and the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Bellin became my final home. I had the opportunity to work with many sick people and have learned so much from my experiences, it is unexplainable how grateful I am to be a nurse.

What was your job at Bellin and what made you decide to enroll in the RN to BSN Completion program at Bellin College?

I was working as a staff nurse in the ICU at Bellin when I decided to enroll in the RN to BSN program through Bellin College. I decided it was time as I was very motivated to continue school and achieve my goal of becoming a nurse educator. Bellin Health was offering unbelievable assistance through Bellin College so I applied and was accepted into the second cohort. I am forever grateful for this opportunity.

What was your experience in the RN to BSN completion program at Bellin College?

The program worked well with my swing shift schedule. The classes held in person were offered at times which allowed me to continue working full time in the ICU as well as have time for my friends and family. One highlight from the program included traveling to Haiti. I was humbled at the living situation Haitians are faced with as well as enjoying some classes with undergrad students. During my community practicum, I spent the bulk of my time in Haiti where we provided clinic to hundreds of vulnerable people. I slept in a tent on the ground in 100 degrees and cried before I left the country. It’s impossible to explain to anyone the feelings I had while I was there, it was truly remarkable. I also spent some time during my community practicum at other sites including Unity Hospice Residence. I had cared for dying patients during my work as a staff nurse and it was very interesting to see how they could be cared for at the Residence instead of the hospital setting.

How was your experience transitioning from the hospital setting to the college, and what do you like best about working in the HSRC?

My transition from the hospital setting was difficult as I wasn’t sure if I was ready to give it up. It was difficult at first, but I am still currently working PRN in the ICU, and am able to fill my need to care for patients intermittently. The people I work with at the college are some of the greatest people in the world. They all have the student’s goals in mind as they make the gears of the building turn. The thing I like best about my work in the HSRC has to be working with the students. I love seeing the students and their moments of understanding as they learn something new.

What are your future career goals and aspirations?

My ultimate goal is to achieve my master’s degree as a Nurse Educator. 

Any advice for other RNs looking to advance their careers?

My advice is to jump in and do it, no matter what it is. The greatest thing about nursing is that there are so many different areas we can jump into. If you decide you do not like it, there will always be another door to open and another opportunity to try something new.

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Three generations of Bellin College grads

Many Bellin College students find themselves following in the footsteps of a grandparent, parent, sibling or another relative when deciding on a career path. Abbygal VandenHouten, a third generation Bellin College graduate, chose a degree program at Bellin College knowing the great experience both her mother and grandmother had in their nursing programs. In high school, VandenHouten enjoyed biology but knew she did not want to be a nurse, but still wanted a career in healthcare. She came across medical imaging and decided to become a radiologic technologist.

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Tim at Bellin College

Future nurse making a difference in the lives of others

Fifteen-month nursing student Tim Lautenslager has overcome adversity that will allow him to be the caring, empathetic nurse most patients want. Lautenslager worked for three years in Detroit, Mich. as a nuclear medicine technologist after graduating from Ferris State University with a bachelor’s degree. While researching the variety of specialties and the areas of nursing available, he decided to move back home to Green Bay, Wis. to earn his Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Originally from Green Bay, Lautenslager knew about the 15-month program at Bellin College and thought the fast-track program was the best fit for him.

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Bellin College alumna advocates for sexual assault and abuse victims as a SANE nurse at St. Vincent Hospital

Dana Stueber, BSN class of 2001, became interested in a nursing career later in life. She was in her late 30s when she graduated from the 15-month nursing program at Bellin College. A mother of three, Stueber had to make frequent visits to the doctor’s office and ER, and came up with her own home remedies.

“I wanted a four-year degree and needed to stay in Green Bay. Choosing Bellin College was the best decision I ever made. I recall saying at graduation that even if I am not able to work a single day as a nurse, the experience was worth it,” said Stueber.

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Former Australian gym teacher lands in Green Bay in pursuit of nursing career

From a young age, Matt Green’s dream job was to work in physical education. That dream came from a life of surfing on the shores of Western Australia and a passion for fitness. Over the years, Green’s direction changed. His mother was a nurse, and his wife is currently a travel nurse. Being surrounded by nurses most of his life, he turned to a new career path—nursing.

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